Computer For Your Old Games
Written by Daniel Westerstal   
Sunday, 05 December 2004

Getting older games to run on new computers can be a very challenging task. To be honest there are many games that won't run on Windows XP; one way of getting your favorites to run is to devote a whole computer to them. This guide shows you how you setup such a computer.



A 486 DX 66 can be enough for many games but definitley not all of them. If you are aiming at running games from 86-94 a 486 could be a good choice. Make sure that you get a DX though, the DX extension means math processor and that can be very good to have when running some games.


To be able to run a majority of games a Pentium between 166-233 mhz is a good choice. A clock speed above 233 MHz might cause your games to run too fast to be able to play them.


RAM memory is not that important when it comes to old games, anything between 16-64 MB would do fine. The type of RAM you need is EDO memories.
The memory that's important however is the conventional memory. The conventional memory is always 640 KB from the beginning. However due to that drivers and DOS programs are uploaded into the conventional memory it will decrease.

There are many ways of configuring so that you will get more conventional memory free. This is usually done in config.sys and autoexec.bat, both files are available in your root directory if you are using DOS. In Windows 95/98/ME/ these files are not that important and in XP they are to no use at all.

During the 90s there were several programs released for DOS that made more conventional memory free. One of those was QEMM, which is included in a package called Quarterdeck Gamerunner. The program might be hard to get these days, also there are some DOS games not working with QEMM.'

Hard drive

The larger hard drive you get the more space you have for your old games. However the larger you get the more problems you can get. Older BIOS can't recognize larger drives than 2Gb so keep this in mind.

If you are using Windows 98 go for a larger drive than 2Gb other than that go for somewhere below 2Gb for maximum compatibility.

Graphics Card

This is not a very important feature when running oldies. Virtually anything with 16mb or more is suitable. If you want to use 3dx features you need to get a 3dfx Voodoo card, these are rare and can be somewhat expensive sometimes they have started to reach a sort of cult status. However there are probably a bunch on E bay. If you can go for a 3dfx Voodoo 2 card with 12mb or more.

A 3dfx card works with the already existing graphics card; all 3D are handled by the 3dfx card and the 2D by the existing graphics card. Also for the 3dfx card to be used the game has to be coded for this.

Sound Card

Now this is a bit more important if you want sound in your games. Go for a Sound Blaster 16 or more, it doesn't really matter if it's ISA or PCI bus, ISA bus soundcards can sometimes give you a lot of headaches but they also provide more compatibility with some older games.

CD-Rom Drive

Any CD-Rom drive would do for your games. You will need drivers for them drive if you are going to run it using MS-Dos.

Operation System

MS-Dos 6.22 or later is recommended when running older DOS based games. Many older games run on Windows 98 as well and if you have a lot of Windows based games it's probably better to use Windows 98 (remember that you need a more powerful processor if doing so). MS-Dos is hard to come by these days, check on Ebay or local flea markets.

Installing MS-Dos is usually not a problem. Just format your hard drive, insert the first MS-DOS disk (sometimes marked Install), restart the computer and boot from the MS DOS disk and follow the on screen instructions.

For most games you will need DOS mouse drivers. There are standard mouse drivers for DOS floating around the net you also get them on a disk if you bought a mouse a couple of years back.

We hope that this guide will help you on your way to compose the ultimate oldie computer.